Travelling in Japan – Part One – Money

Jan 23, 2012


WILT has spent the last couple of weeks on sabbatical in Japan.

There are many circumstances when you need cash in Japan, especially outside Tokyo. Most places do not use Eftpos, and many do not take credit cards. This is surprising in such a technological country, and it is doubly surprising tha getting cash while in Japan can be surprisingly hard.

Before you go, the Australian Post Office tends to have the best rates for ¥.  You need to give them a few days notice.

When using our credit card in Japan, most cards seem to have a 3% surcharge plus $8 or so fee when you use them.

Let your credit card company know the dates you will be away before you go, and it is best to have a PIN number for your card, as some places expect a PIN rather than signing.

Many ATMs do not accept International Cards. Some will accept Credit Cards for cash advance, but not debit cards. It can be a bit hit and miss. The Cirrus and Maestro logos on the machine make it more likely they will work, but are still not a guarantee.


The ATM in the arrivals hall at Narita (to the R of the customs exit) accepts international cards and is a good first call.

Sometimes you can have luck with ATMs in a Seven11 store. Post offices will often have an international ATM. Citibank machines tend to work well, as do other international banks. 


Citibank Office near East Exit Shinjuku Station.

It is daunting at first entering the lage amount of zeros when withdrawing money from an ATM.

As a rule of thumb, it can help to remember that a Yen is about a cent.

  • A 100 Yen coin is about a dollar (in fact, 80c)
  • A 1000 Yen note is about $10 (in fact, $8)
  • A 10000 Yen note is about $100 (in fact, $80)
What are your top tips about money in Japan?
Tomorrow – transfers.

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